My reward for working at the local farmers market for my neighbor, was a ticket to the 56th annual Wild Game Dinner that was held a few towns over from me.
Five of us very hungry farmers ventured to this well known and well advertised town tradition for the very first time.
The lines of people came down the steps, down the sidewalk and around the corner.
There was reserved seating for every hour from 4 pm- 8pm.
A thousand tickets had been sold.
There were 200 volunteers making this big event run smoothly.
Within 20 minutes of us arriving, our part of the line got into the huge church where all you could smell was food being grilled and all you could hear was the dixieland band of Strawberry Jam playing great tunes.
Our ticket numbers were called and we went downstairs to the big room under the church where hundreds of people were serving, sitting, eating and exclaiming how great the food was.
We got a real plate as soon as we came thru the door.
As I pushed my plate along the long counter top, many volunteers placed portions of hot food on my plate. I noticed the military precision and all the men doing the cooking in the church kitchen.
I got samples of everything ON the menu plus a few items that were NOT on the menu.....such as rabbit pot pie. bear chilli, rabbit liver pate, duck sausage, varieties of gravies, stews, etc.
The line moved fast as people were eager to get a seat and eat!
All the meat was coded with various color toothpicks. At the end of the food line you were handed a cheat sheet that explained what you were eating.
My farmer friend, who got me the ticket, raised the emu on the menu. He got alot of compliments on it that night. It was melt-in-your-mouth perfect!
My plate was filled fast and I headed to the table, barely able to juggle the plate, camera, and smell all the delicious smells in the air around us.
People who sat at our table came from Ohio with all their relatives. Its their family tradition for 30 years now. Similar stories were heard during the evenings festivities. People may move out of Vermont but they all come back to this particular wild game supper. I can undertand why now.
What a production!
Our waitress says it takes a year of planning to bring it all together. Remember that it takes 200 volunteers to make it run. Most of it is crowd control outside and cooking and serving food plus going around pouring fresh apple cider, hot coffee and milk ( I drank almost a gallon ). There are a dozen dish washers, table cleaners, table setters and spice cake makers. The details are everywhere.
All the meat was local except for the buffalo. It was shipped from out West.
There were also an army of cooks in the parking lot grilling wild boar sausage and venison.
Another group of cooks were just making gravies of every kind imaginable.
My group put the cheat sheet away and tried to guess what each meat was.
It was a really great time. The food was grilled to perfection PLUS there was all you could eat mashed potatoes, squash, home made baked bread and spice cake with real whipped cream. Every thing was from local farms from within FIVE miles away!!!
We suddenly realized that were eating much of the same items that the pilgrims, and the early settlers in this area, ate when they first arrived: A variety of wild game that came from within a 5 mile area.
Flavorful, colorful and filling. The bear chilli is in the round cup.
Here is the short menu. Doesn't include all the other "off menu" items......
If you ever get a chance to go to one of these, GO!!
Bring your appetite and a good group of friends and family.
It is a once in a lifetime experience.